The Impact of 5G on Maps and Location Intelligence

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May 10, 2023

The Impact of 5G on Maps and Location Intelligence

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May 10, 2023

The emergence of 5G networks is causing a significant impact on the world of location intelligence, allowing for faster and more accurate location data than ever before. As businesses and individuals increasingly rely on maps, data, and location-based services, the ability to pinpoint precise locations in real-time is becoming more important.

In this article, we examine how 5G networks are likely to impact the future of location intelligence, and how Mapbox is helping telecom companies push the next generation of location-based services.

How Does 5G Impact Location Intelligence?

5G is the latest generation of wireless network technology, offering faster data speeds, lower latency, and greater capacity than previous network technologies such as 3G, 4G, and LTE. Speed, accuracy, and capacity improvements each enhance the capabilities of location intelligence on connected devices. 

Speed

5G is incredibly fast, boasting data speeds that are one hundred times faster than the previous generation of 4G LTE. This is greatly beneficial for solutions that rely on high-quality location data, as faster upload speeds allow faster data collection and transfer, enabling businesses to gather and analyze data more quickly.

Accuracy

5G networks have lower latency than 4G and other previous technologies, meaning that there is less delay in the transmission of data. This enables more accurate and precise mapping. With 5G's improved connectivity and low latency, mapping applications can provide more accurate location data, including real-time location tracking, which can be used for a range of applications, from navigation to emergency services. 

With even the slightest delay, real-time location services lose accuracy, which can lead to serious problems such as failed deliveries, reduced fleet optimization, or traffic accidents. Lower latency with 5G ensures that dynamic location information can be relied upon. 

Capacity

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, 5G can support up to 1,000 more devices per meter than 4G. This means that devices, sensors, and other connected objects can transmit and receive data faster and more efficiently, which is crucial for collecting and analyzing geospatial data. This could have significant implications for industries such as transportation, logistics, and urban planning, where real-time information on traffic patterns, weather conditions, and other variables can be used to optimize operations.

For example, 4G customers trying to locate their car in a crowded parking lot after a sporting event may find their map unresponsive. With a 5G network, businesses can be confident in the reliability of location services even when experiencing a high volume of online users.

Mapbox Helps Telecom Companies Get The Most From 5G

As 5G networks set the stage for improved location intelligence, location technologies are also helping Telecom companies transition to 5G. High-quality location intelligence from Mapbox is used to support top telecom companies like T-Mobile in their 5G rollout in four primary ways. 

Coverage Maps

Telecom companies use comprehensive coverage maps to help their customers make purchasing decisions between services. Coverage data is dynamic and always changing as networks grow and expand. Mapbox enables providers to update their data and styles on a weekly or even daily basis so that the maps reflect real-world coverage. Mapbox Geocoding API and Tilequery API can look up a user's location and determine coverage eligibility for their address.

T-Mobile uses Mapbox to power their fully customized 5G and 4G coverage map. This beautiful map provides incredibly accurate coverage data stylized using T-Mobile’s iconic magenta color palette. 

Network Planning and Performance

Internally, coverage datasets are used to inform network planning decisions and where to invest in additional capacity for new markets. In an extremely competitive space having the leading edge on 5G deployment - both in coverage and performance- is a high-priority differentiator that drives market share for Telcos. The successful deployment of a 5G network relies on network operators and technicians consistently refining the process through data analysis and feedback. Knowing where towers are located, how signal propagates across terrain, and where network demand is growing are just a few crucial factors for strategic planning.

Telcos use their own data to identify gaps or rely on network performance testing companies like Ookla which collect metrics such as coverage, latency, jitter, bandwidth, or capacity from hundreds of millions of speed tests. Ookla uses Mapbox visualizations and location data layers to help communicate coverage and performance worldwide to operators and policy makers so that they act to correct gaps in demand and accurately compare data.

Using Mapbox Tiling Service, dynamic data is more accessible and manageable than ever before. MTS processes and creates tilesets which can then be visualized and shared across multiple internal and external mapping applications.

Network Outage Maps

Network outage maps are an equally important tool to keep current customers informed and in the loop in the event of any loss of service or periodic maintenance. In some states, regulators like the California Public Utility Commission have mandated that providers report outages that could cause disruption or impact emergency services. More states are expected to roll out similar requirements in the near term future.

Mapbox enables companies to render outage data in real-time in user-friendly map dashboards for web and mobile, ensuring customers can easily get a status update. Interactive outage maps provide additional data about outages, allowing users to view the data at different zoom levels, and search for outages at a specific address or by zipcode. Support options and reliability of Mapbox infrastructure allow providers to meet compliance requirements and avoid penalties.

IOT Smart Cities 

The combination of 5G technology and location intelligence has the potential to revolutionize the way cities operate, creating a new era of smart cities. When these two technologies are combined, they create a powerful tool that can help cities become more efficient, sustainable, and livable. 5G networks can provide the connectivity needed to power a wide range of location-based applications, such as traffic management systems, environmental monitoring, and public safety applications. These map-based applications can use real-time data from IOT sensors or Mapbox Data Products to inform decision-making, enabling cities to respond quickly to changing conditions.

For example, traffic management systems can use Mapbox Traffic data to optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion. By leveraging the real time updates from Mapbox traffic engines, these systems can provide real-time information to drivers, helping them avoid traffic jams and find the fastest route. Historical data might be used to inform public transit investments to reduce congestion long term.

Mapbox Movement provides insights into daily foot traffic patterns for businesses and population density changes at the block level. This data can inform urban planning decisions, such as investing in better sidewalks and pedestrian crossings for areas with high pedestrian traffic.

Leverage the Future of 5G with Mapbox

To get the best results from new-and-improved 5G networks, consider Mapbox. By powering the location intelligence that helps to solve the pain points of telecom companies, Mapbox is helping shape the conditions for location technologies that are faster, more accurate, and more connected than ever before.

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